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Tag: Technology

1

Listen to Voice Comments

I learned something cool this week. You can leave voice comments on a Google doc. This is very cool for teachers who want to leave a comment on a document for one of their students, but found that they had to write a lot. Now they can leave a voice comment.  I am a writer and editor. So this could save me so much time when I edit, and this can save me if my editor uses this feature. Jennifer Roberts created this video tutorial on how to use it. Check it out!

11

Get over it! It's already 2012

How long do we have to be in the 21st century to say we are 21st century teachers? 

Everything has changed because of the Internet. Schools are going wireless, using interactive whiteboards, flipping the classroom, putting in 1:1 solutions — some are even BYOD (Bringing Your Own Device). I see exciting technology yet rarely see innovative teaching and learning. I don’t mean to be harsh here, but  I read Med Karbach’s What Does It Take to be a 21st Century Teacher? and thought I need to write something. It’s all about a culture shift. It’s not just the technology. It’s a mindset.

There are lots of great teachers that don’t use technology. They motivate their students. Students are engaged and love being in their class. Karbach included this image:

To Be

This image says it all to me. It is all about each learner and their own learning potential. Do we tap into it? Teachers mostly teach the way they have been taught. To move to a more collaborative learning environment involves all stakeholders. One teacher in a school can move desks around, have students create learning plans, but this is a whole culture shift that needs to happen.

I am invited to facilitate change at schools all over. Observing teachers, I notice a desperation. They tell me that they want to make a difference; they want to use the technology; but…

Here’s the buts:

  • I have to cover the curriculum.
  • There is such a diverse group in my class.
  • It is so much work to design projects for all my students.
  • Group work is a pain to set up and assess how each student is learning.
  • I’m told to differentiate all my lessons which now takes even longer.
  • My class size was increased by 10 more children.
  • I am so tired each night grading papers, there’s no time left for me.
  • I am spending more time creating video lectures to flip everything.
  • paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
  • The parents are so demanding that I have to put up homework every night.

 

Do any of these concerns sound like you and your situation?

 

I have an idea. Let’s flip learning. Your students have been 21st century learners most of their lives. They know how to use all of the technology. If they don’t, they figure it out. Why not make them more responsible for their learning? What if…

  • your students create the videos about the content to flip the classroom. Check out Mathtrain.tv where Eric Marcos realized that students learn best from other students.
  • involve your students in lesson design. Be partners in unpacking the standards and designing activities. Children today are very resilient and smart if we give them the chance. Check out this post from Kathleen McClaskey and myself on Personal Learner Profiles and the Common Core.
  • See Think WonderAsk your students to brainstorm and prioritize questions about the topic. This post on Making Just One Change where I interviewed Sara Armstrong helped me understand the importance of inquiry.  Michael Wesch encourages his university students to wonder. Dave Truss shared the opening of their new school The Inquiry Hub where students “learn without boundaries.”
  • Imagine your students building lessons with you as partners in learning.

 

Maybe it’s a matter of letting go and trusting that your students can learn — want to learn. I have a difficult time sitting in a lecture hall myself. When I go to a conference and listen to a great lecture, I learn. But I learn more when I am more involved in the learning process. Sharing. Curating. Discussing. Even arguing a point.

So maybe we need to rethink what a 21st century teacher is. It’s a culture shift. Maybe that teacher is a…
  • partner in learning with their students.
  • facilitator who guides the learning process.
  • an advocate for each learner who has strengths and weaknesses, passions, interests, and aspirations to be whatever they can be.
  • person who realizes they can never know everything so learns to unlearn and learn again.

 

How about some innovative strategies for professional development? Like having students teach teachers how to use the technology. Maybe include students in professional development so you hear their point of view. If this is a culture shift, can one teacher do this alone? I still believe it takes a village idea. We need to involve all stakeholders including the parents. But if you want to make a difference now.. start involving your students — one lesson at a time. Let’s see what happens and share back. Let me know.

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Personalized Learning @ Colorado Springs SD11

District 11, Colorado Springs

Thought Leader Interview:
Greg Wilborn, Personalized Learning Coordinator

Kathleen McClaskey interviewed Greg Wilborn about District 11, Colorado Springs in Colorado and their journey to personalize learning.

Q. Why personalize learning?

Because we finally CAN!

For the first time in our history, we have the tools and access to resources to allow individual learners the flexibility and freedom to pursue an education centered around their own interests and aptitudes. Educators and philosophers for centuries have yearned for education that is learner centered and molded by the learner as opposed to the factory system. While the desire has been there, the methods have been shackled by the restrictions of human interaction and delivery methods. There is only so much that can be personalized with one facilitator, 20 to 40 learners, and print media and production methods.

Technology is the lever that can move learning to heights yet unseen and now is the time to evolve the approaches and systems to support each and every learner anytime, anywhere.

Personalized learning allows learners to have a wide choice of what they learn, how they learn, when, where, and how they demonstrate their learning. Imagine how many ways learners can approach the subject of civil rights if given the right direction, resources, and coaching. Instead of limiting the subject to the content perspective of a certain time period and location, (i.e. the southern United States from 1960 to 1970) learners can research civil rights globally or locally, related to their own family tree, a historic figure, or throughout history. The research can be done on one of several devices, from many locations, and results can be displayed in a variety of engaging formats and even published for the world to see. Creating (verb) is now the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy and learners can now spend much more time in the act of creating something significant from appropriate content that is of interest to them.

Every learner in every corner of the globe with connectivity can now take courses from the finest learning institutions in the world, collaborate with others, compete for the best jobs, or start their own global business. All with just an inexpensive connected computer device. Those who opt out or are left out may find themselves unable to recover therefore it is morally imperative that leaders transform education and make it accessible to all.

Q. What is your school district’s vision of personalizing learning?

At the heart of the District’s Personalized Learning Vision is the desire to provide all learners with a personalized learning experience enabled by universal access to education through technology, wherever and whenever they choose. The provision of a personalized experience for each individual will drive students’ motivation to learn. They will have the opportunity to work individually, in groups, or as a whole class, locally, nationally and internationally.

The entire district will maximize opportunities for promoting learning and engaging students in exciting and innovative ways. Access to technology resources will be far broader than classrooms; schools’ social areas and the external environments will utilize technology through interactive displays, challenges, streaming information and celebrations of achievement that enhance the academic culture of the district.

The development of a learning platform will allow the learning environment to extend beyond school buildings and traditional opening hours. It will give access to resources, individualized plans, targets, communication tools and achievements for all learners. Online access to schemes of work will allow our learners to plan and think ahead, seeing the progression and connectedness of their learning.

Our digital learning environment will allow learners to engage and collaborate with a wide variety of mentors from global industry and education. This collaboration will enhance the quality of resources available and provide an ‘on demand’ approach that helps build personalized learning pathways.

There will be no single mode of learning throughout District 11; technology will provide flexibility to meet the needs of learners working in different ways. This will be supported by an imaginative approach to school usage, providing a variety of physical learning environments.

A combination of fixed and mobile technologies throughout our schools will be necessary to support this vision but possibly the biggest challenge will be providing access at home in terms of both device and connectivity.

Throughout District 11, technology will be used to deliver a ‘wow’ factor to ignite and stimulate learning. The use of technology across all subjects will become a seamlessly integrated part of the learning experience promoting independent working, creativity, enterprise and lifelong success for our students.

Q. What steps have your principals and teachers taken to create personalized learning environments in their school(s)?

We have launched a comprehensive plan to move all of our schools and classrooms towards personalized learning environments. This enormous endeavor is strategically planned and aligned to the Knoster Model for Change to ensure the greatest chance of success.

Managing Complex Change

Upon completion of the district vision we set up meetings with every principal, walk throughs of their building, administered a School Self Review (http://www.gregorydenby.com/self- review.html) for their leadership team, set up training sessions for team planning and offered planning support along the way. Each school now has a strategic plan created by them, for them and aligned to the district’s vision.

It was crucial to meet each school where they were and to coach them to the creation of a plan that meets the uniqueness of their environment and their journey. With this approach, we were met with mostly enthusiastic involvement and a sense of ownership by the school leadership teams. We have organized our schools (scores of 1-3) based on their own School Self Reviews to determine how ready they are to begin personalizing learning; Due to the role that technology plays in the ability to deliver personalization, schools that are farthest behind are grouped as 1’s. These schools need basic technology upgrades and professional development and lack resources at this time. Schools that have better resources but lack effective utilization are grouped as 2’s, and the schools that are resource rich and just need better understanding and more focused professional development are 3’s. By identifying where schools are in a journey towards personalization, we can then plan accordingly and meet the needs they have to move up a continuum of progress. We utilize Hooper and Rieber’s model of technology adoption in the classroom as a guide to progress.

Evolution

Hooper, S., & Rieber, L. P. (1995). Teaching with technology. In A. C. Ornstein (Ed.), Teaching: Theory into practice, (pp. 154-170). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Given 52 schools one can only imagine the diversity of paths that exist and progress is measured by ensuring small steps are taken each quarter, this is truly a case of eating the elephant one bite at a time. Projects that are in progress now include 1:1 pilots, establishment of standardized teacher tool kits, experimentation with learning platforms, bring your own device initiatives, flipped classrooms, international student to student collaboration, distance learning courses, and a group of Personalized Learning Lead Educators with representation from every school. As a district, we are creating student and teacher skills ladders for the use of technology, a teacher self review, baseline teacher expectations, online professional development, standardized collaborative tools, and a robotic partridge in a pear tree.

Q. How are you preparing and training teachers to move to a learner-centric personalized learning environment?

Teacher ToolsEverything we do is tied back to our Personalized Learning Vision which states that professional development across the District will be a key element in transforming education. As we promote a personalized approach to our students’ education, we will create a system that delivers the same for our teachers. At the center of the system will be integrated self-appraisal. We are in the process of creating an online self review for teachers which they can take as often as they like. This will enable teachers to assess their knowledge and skills online and then link directly through to interactive training and development resources that can be accessed anywhere anytime, as often as needed. Our online professional development system will provide the most effective resources from the highest quality providers, many of whom will be District 11 educators.

The District will develop a Personalized Learning Lead Educator Group that will continuously investigate and promote personalized learning and the integration of the best educational technologies into our classrooms. The areas chosen for development through leading educators will be informed by the needs of the District and individual school’s planning. The Personalized Learning Lead Educator Group will be instrumental in the development of exemplar lessons, demonstration classrooms and ultimately demonstration schools which will be specific to leveled tiers ensuring appropriate differentiation.

The Personalized Learning Lead Educator Group will:

  • Share research.
  • Develop learning resources around their area of expertise.
  • Deliver exemplar lessons that can be viewed by other teachers (live and/or recorded).
  • Explore new and existing technologies.
  • Produce and/or find guidance notes (podcasts, video etc.) in their area of expertise.
  • Develop resources that promote an ‘on demand’ approach to professional development.
  • Use technology to increase the flexibility of professional development e.g., webinars.

 

There are many smaller projects that will support teacher growth throughout the district. Skills ladders for the use of technology are being created for students and teachers. We will shine the spotlight and camera upon exemplar lessons and learning environments and share them via our online professional development system. We are also working hard to provide an equitable teacher tool kit for every learning space while we continue to refine digital collaborative tools for all learners.

Greg WilbornGreg Wilborn
Personalized Learning Coordinator
Colorado Springs SD 11
Twitter: @gwilborn
LinkedIN: Greg Wilborn
1

The Filter Bubble Disguised as Personalization

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser is a book I recommend reading since most of us are online, searching for information probably not aware of what is happening with our data while we click away.

“The primary purpose of an editor [is] to extend the horizon of what people are interested in and what people know. Giving people what they think they want is easy, but it’s also not very satisfying: the same stuff, over and over again. Great editors are like great matchmakers: they introduce people to whole new ways of thinking, and they fall in love.” ~ Eli Pariser


Pariser shares “Your filter bubble is the personal universe of information that you live in online — unique and constructed just for you by the array of personalized filters that now power the web. Facebook contributes things to read and friends’ status updates, Google personally tailors your search queries, and Yahoo News and Google News tailor your news.”

The filter bubble is populated by the things that most compel you to click. Think about what you are looking for when you search and click around the Internet. You may be looking for medical information, want to know about a celebrity, or just want to shop. These may be highly personal to you but they may not be the same things you need to know or want to learn.

Google declares that search is personalized for everyone, and tailors its search results on an individual basis. When you search a topic, your results will be different than someone else’s search results. The reason companies like Google and Facebook use algorithms is that, once you’ve got them going, they cost much less than hiring humans to edit the news feed or find relevant information for you. Unfortunately, you may get results based on past searches, text in email messages, chats, and just clicking on different pages while trying to find what you are looking for. Each click is captured. Each time you “like” a friend or post, that is captured as “personalized” for you.

I have several gmail accounts so Google keeps all of my email received or sent so it knows who I’m connected to and all of their information. Google knows what I’ve searched for over so many years, and how much time it took me to search for something and how long I took to click a link or stay on a page. Are you aware that there are 57 signals that Google tracks about each user even if you’re not logged in?

This is not personal. It’s business. It is another way to push products, services, people, and other items to you based on their algorithms. I receive ads for coach products because of my company, My eCoach. This has nothing to do with wanting or needing any coach products. It’s just seems relevant to the algorithms.  I also get trends and news sent to me even though I’m not interested in what is sent to me. I learn about different stars breaking up and other not so interesting news. I really don’t need that either.

Why is this happening? Google, Facebook, and many online companies use and sell your data to third parties. They give your information to the government if they are asked for it. This is your information — information about you — that they are manipulating and giving to others without your knowledge. We use products like Google and Facebook, putting up private information about ourselves, because it’s free and seems like the privacy policies will protect you. I recommend reading the terms of use and privacy statements. The double talk and legalese is difficult to understand. Just know that if a program is FREE, they are using your data. Nothing is free. Every time you click on a link or type in an email, your information is being collected.

“Companies like Yahoo have turned over massive amounts of data to the US government without so much as a subpoena.” ~ Eli Pariser

There’s a basic problem with a system where Google makes billions off of the data we give it without giving us much control over how it’s used or even what it is.

Pariser states a profound concern “Personalization is sort of privacy turned inside out: it’s not the problem of controlling what the world knows about you, it’s the problem of what you get to see of the world. We ought to have more control over that — one of the most pernicious things about the filter bubble is that mostly it’s happening invisibly — and we should demand it of the companies we use.”

Go ahead and click the image below to get the book:

7

How Personalized Learning is Being Framed

The term “Personalized Learning” is huge and controversial. Technology offers incredible potential for education. The concern I have is how educational technology companies are framing how technology can personalize learning. I attended the keynote of NYU professor Diane Ravitch on March 16, 2012 at the Computer-Using Educators (CUE) conference in Palm Springs, California who started with “for a century, educators have dreamed about student-centered learning, and now technology has the potential to make it real.” Ravitch explains this in more detail in her latest book: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

“Educational technology helps students rise to a level of engagement and learning “far beyond” what a textbook can offer,” Ravitch said, “adding that textbooks often avoid sensitive or difficult topics from the past because publishers and those with a stake in adoption want the textbooks to be approved for student use. Textbooks have been plagued by a regime of silence and censorship, and for years, educators have wondered how to expose students to true versions of the events they read about in their textbooks. So what do you do?”

“ The answer is technology,” Ravitch said. “For instance, educators can show videos depicting historical events or portraying scientific phenomena without editing. Technology is too big, too various, too wide open, and far too much for them to monitor,” she said. “It’s free, and they can’t make you edit out the controversial stuff—they can try, but I think it might be too hard.”

Ed tech has, in fact, helped spur new kinds of freedom. Teachers aren’t the only ones who see technology’s potential in the classroom—entrepreneurs see it as a way to make money, and policy makers see it as a way to cut costs and, in some cases, eliminate teachers.

“Some advocates of online instruction say it will make possible reductions of 30 percent of today’s teaching staff,” Ravitch said. “The bottom line for some is profits, not students.”

Technology adapts curriculum, analyzes data, stores content, allows anonymity, and produces vast amounts of information. In many of these cases, companies frame what they do with technology as personalized learning.

Ravitch added “no machine can judge nuance, or irony, or tone, or some amazing bursts of creativity. I fear the use of these programs will inevitably reduce student work. … I fear a loss of thoughtfulness” as students write papers to satisfy a computer. This is the thinking of a world too flat for me. … Don’t let them flatten you,” Ravitch said. “Don’t let them give you a number—we are not cattle; we should not be branded. Let us dare to use technology as it should be used—to dream, create, explore, and learn without boundaries. Let us use the power of technology to say ‘No’ to those who want to standardize our minds and the minds of our students.”

Diane RavitchDiane Ravitch is an historian of education at New York University. Her best-selling book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has made her one of the nation’s most sought after speakers on current issues. She is a graduate of Houston public schools, Wellesley College, and holds a PhD from Columbia University. She has received nine honorary doctorates and many awards for her scholarship.  She served as Assistant Secretary of Education for Research and Improvement in the administration of President George H.W. Bush and was appointed to two terms on the National Assessment Governing Board by the Clinton administration.  She lives in New York City.

 

Educational companies are framing personalized learning to adapt what you learn. Their software adapts to your learning so learners sit in front of a computer half a day.  It is also being framed as a way to make learning cost-effective and guarantees increasing scores. They are promoting that computers can take over the work of a teacher. This is what I say: “A computer cannot personalize learning like a teacher and a student can.” It is all about the learner not the software, the textbook, or the tools. Personalized learning starts with the learner.

For more information on Personalized Learning, go to Personalize Learning.

0

Reboot to Encourage Wonder

“Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” Charles Kettering

 

Professor Michael Wesch reboots after hearing advice that his teaching isn’t working. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed speaks to me and not only for higher ed.

Michael Wesch teaching students

How many of us reboot what we are doing when we realize we are going down the wrong road? We are all guilty of continuing down the same road because it is easier than changing. Educators in all grades have worked for years developing lessons that we believe teach the concepts they want their students to learn. If one lesson didn’t work, then another did. It takes a lot of work to start over — reboot.

Caution for the futureWhat that means for many teachers is to change the way they teach. This means letting go and using technology. Both of these concepts are scary for many teachers. Some are almost ready for retirement and just don’t want to reboot now. Some are resistant because they don’t want to believe that what they are teaching isn’t working. Let’s rethink why we went into the teaching profession. It’s really not about us. It’s all about the learners. If we continue to teach like we did years ago, we not only leave many of our learners behind, we do them a disservice. They won’t be prepared for their future.

In the article, Professor Wesch realizes that students can use technology to search for wonder.

“At its best, Mr. Wesch believes that interactive technology—and other methods to create more active experiences in the classroom—can be used to forge that kind of relationship between teachers and students where professors nurture rather than talk down to students.

In one of his courses, he teamed up with students to produce an ethnography of YouTube users. The project helped the students feel more like collaborators because the technology allowed them to immediately publish their work online.”

 What does that mean? Talk down to students? I don’t think teachers think they are talking down to students if they are lecturing, giving feedback or grading papers. When you teach something you love, you think that your enthusiasm will be enough to excite your students. Times are different. You’ve heard “times are a changing.” Well, the future is here now.  If you give control to your students to drive their learning, that doesn’t mean you are not teaching effectively. Lectures and direct instruction is one way to present information, but are you losing your students?

Lecture and chalkboard

I remember sitting for hours and hours staring at my teachers’ backs. I zoned out. I doodled. I knew there had to be a better way for students like me. I learn best by doing. Now more students are like me and have gone way beyond me. They are tweeting, texting, and googling while in class. Mr. Wesch writes about using these tools to engage students.

What if you set up a backchannel chat or Twitter group to give you instant feedback? Ask a student to help you do this? If you ask students to blog, don’t correct their spelling. This is a great space to journal and publish their thoughts. You can learn from their posts. This is still scary for some teachers. Are these teachers resistant or just obstinate? What if they really believe what they are doing is making a difference?

See Think WonderAsk your students! Give them a survey or ask for feedback on how you teach and how they learn. It’s not just about you or the content anymore. It’s about learners being prepared for a career, the type of job that they love or pays them enough so they can live comfortably, or gives them the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. There are some learners who just want to learn because they are excited about something — passionate and interested to learn. They may want to take amazing photographs or understand astronomy because they always wanted to know about the stars.

What do you wonder about?

Just imagine a day in your class that you encouraged wonder! Take 20% of your time to let go and reboot your teaching so students wonder about something they are passionate about. Encourage students to use technology and teach you. I wonder what will happen to your students. Let me know.

1

Immerse Yourself in Video

A new iPad app just came out, Condition ONE, that lets you change the perspective of what you are seeing in the video. You can physically control the camera’s perspective in the video by moving the events on the iPad as if you are holding the camera. This is just the beginning of what we will be seeing in the future how you will be able to make your virtual experience with technology more personal.

Condition ONE Demo from Danfung Dennis on Vimeo.

Condition ONE was created by photojournalist Danfung Dennis and his partners as a way to make more immersive documentaries, but the format has the potential to work for any topic or subject that is enhanced by a feeling of immersion (sports, live music, education). The app turns specially encoded video into a virtual reality experience, where the iPad becomes your window into the video that you are watching. Using the iPad’s gyroscope, as you twist your body the viewing window follows with you as if you were in control of the video’s camera. Want to see where that action is coming from? Just turn your body (with the iPad) and look.

How do you see this as an app in education?

Download Condition ONE here.

0

Noticing what gets your attention

I started several Scoop-its to curate the resources in one place to use later.
Apps for The Student-Centered Classroom
Creativity, Innovation, and Change
Making Learning Personal
Communities of Practice for New Learning Environments
Curate Your Learning

In doing that I’ve been noticing what people like and follow. It seems to be the Apps and Tools. I know we as educators say not to focus on the tools but it doesn’t seem that way. I notice this at technology conferences and, as a reader, the proposals submitted and accepted.

It seems that adults and teachers have technolust just like the kids. What does that mean for the classroom? The other Scoop-its are about change, pedagogy, communities of practice, and all the things that teachers tell me they want to understand for their own professional learning. However, when you go to a conference and the speaker is talking about change, the future, pedagogy, the room is not full.

For years I have done Tips and Tricks about this tool or that app and the room is overcrowded. It’s like a feeding frenzy. I do a session on change and the steps needed for change, and there’s only a few there. But I know those that are there are really interested.

What I’m wondering is how to take this technolust attitude and use it to make change. I am working with teachers to move to student-centered learning environments. In the process, they are learning new tools that engage and motivate students — and them. School is just not engaging — especially if you read out of the workbook. Kids are bored. They are digital whiz kids now.

How about adding a Smackdown at the end of the week and let three kids share a new tool or app they found for 2 minutes each? Then you as the teacher look at slowly changing the classroom and make student experts.

Think we need to shake things up here and look at the bigger picture. It’s not about the technology. Right? Technology is just a great way to make change.

5

Constructivism vs Connectivism

I believe in connecting and building your Personal Learning Network (PLN). I never really thought about collaboration and Constructivism being in a closed environment. Steven Downes provided a keynote today on Connectivism and Personal Learning.

I see the move to Open Education Resources (OER) where all the content is there, available, free, at your fingertips. Connectivism is a learning theory that

“emphasizes the learner’s ability to navigate information: the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.” (Siemens, 2005)

Why this is important now is that with social media, OER, and the Internet, knowledge is distributed available anytime anywhere. Constructivism (Papert, Piaget, Vygotsky) interpretted the higher-thinking skills of Bloom’s to encourage making and producing. In Constructivism, the classroom is still teacher-centric with the teacher managing and coordinating projects. I know we call it student-centered, but the teacher is still designing who does what. It’s a beginning. It’s learning to let go.

Personalized Learning starts with the learner and where they are. If we are moving to Connectivism, then the learner is the center of a network of resources, people, ideas, etc. The learner decides what they need with the help of all the other people in their network. The teacher could be one of the nodes that links the connections. I see this happening by the learner – some are ready now – some may never be ready. There are a lot of questions on how to transition to this type of environment. Traditional school is so embedded in teacher-directed instruction. Maybe we’ll use this piece of teaching and that from learning something new.
Maybe the teacher is the coach on the sidelines guiding the learner on their learning path. Instead of standardized tests, the learner is monitoring their progress, collecting evidence of learning, asking for feedback from their PLN.

  • How do you measure achievement?
  • What are you measuring now?
  • How do you design assessment around each learner?
  • When do you start building a learner’s network?
  • What components are in their network?
  • Is there a physical place or places for learning and connecting?
  • Do age and grade levels matter in this environment?

We are moving in this direction. The world is changing, getting smaller and flatter. I have changed since my PLN has grown and become a richer part of my life. I am learning something new almost every day. So if we move to a more Connectivist model, how do we transition and make it work within our current system or do we just start completely over?

0

BYOL + PLC = CoP

BYOL means Bring Your Own Laptop. I know I know – acronyms – Why? I’m trying to make a point here. If you have enough resources for each child (BYOL), then you can grow professional learning communities (PLC) with all learners. When you have these communities sprouting up around your district, you build communities of practice (CoP).

Forest Hills Local Schools in Cincinatti, OH launched their laptop program in January 2011. They focused on all 7th grade students who would bring their own computers to school or use the school’s laptops. They decided to start with a pilot program to gather data and learn what works and what didn’t work before they expanded to more grade levels across the district.

Cary HarrodI’ve known Cary Harrod (caryharrod@foresthills.edu), the Instructional Technology Specialist, for many years and knew how persistent she was to get a program like this off the ground. I remember her saying to me several years ago, “it’s all about the kids” and “how do we make change when there aren’t enough resources?”

So after I heard that Forest Hills piloted a BYOL project, I interviewed Cary last week. She shared with me how the district proposed a 1:1, where the district would purchase laptops for all students but that it was cost prohibitive for a district of 7,800 students with 6 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 2 high schools. Two years later (April 2010), they wanted the tech team to come up with something different and we decided to go BYOL. The school board and administration supported it and the technology leads researched existing 1:1 programs. They wanted to focus on digital learning that supports student-centered learning pedagogy.
@1st Centurizing Learning

A critical piece was designing a professional development plan that incorporated 21st century learning. They agreed on the importance of personal learning as the first step towards understanding the shifts occurring in education. They wanted to create a “hothouse” where great ideas begin, new methods of learning are shared and communities are rooted.

The structure included:

  • cultivating a professional learning community (Ning, Twitter, Diigo, Skype, f2f meetings)

  • providing for sustained practice and anytime learning (Ning, Twitter, Diigo, Skype)
  • modeling Inquiry Learning
  • providing coaching
  • modeling effective collaboration
  • developing Theoretical & Practical Understanding.

The district, school board, and the 7th grade administrator, Natasha Adams, developed a partnership with teachers, students, and parents to bring everyone on board. Only a small percentage were resistant. In November 2010, the district has a showcase of projects where teachers set up booths and invited parents. They also set up

CAMPL

Conversations
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Personal
Learning

along with conference style tool workshops after school and on Saturdays. For all families that were included in the BYOL program, there was a mandatory session on the Nuts and Bolts of laptop maintenance and safety. Over 1,000 people attended all of the sessions.

While the professional development began with conversations about the tools, they quickly
began talking about what this will look like in the classroom.

The principal required all teachers to develop their PLN (Personal Learning Network) and read and discussed Tribes by Seth Godin. 40 teachers went through the Partnership for Powerful Learning. Forest Hills TeachersAfter spending a month on how to articulate the move from 20th century to 21st century learning, the teachers brainstormed a list of characteristics of a classroom with good teaching and good learning. They then used the characteristics to transform a 20th century lesson and give it a 21st century bent.

The pilot started with 7th grade with 559 students, 353 brought in a device. There were already 160 laptops available to lend and the rest of the parents provided their children laptops. Now that every 7th grader had a laptop, support at home, and the teachers were ready, they focused on lesson design.

Students used their devices in all subject areas and utilized the many tools available to access, manage and organize information; connect with other students and experts; and create multi-media projects.

Due to the success of the project, the program has expanded, allowing all eighth graders to bring in their own devices. Currently, over 580 students are bringing in their own device. Further expansion will occur in the 2012-2013 school year, when the program moves to grades 9-12 with a possible expansion to the elementary grades in subsequent years.

Links:
Link to BYOL
Nagel Middle School, Forest Hills Local Schools

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